Ron Graham, alto sax; Chuck MacKinnon, trumpet and flugelhorn; Bruce Forman and Dave McNab, guitar; Benjamin Rubin and Hillel Familant, bass; Diego Doglono and Brad Hargreaves, drums.
This is a tight, straight ahead set by Californian Graham. "Merl's Perls" gets things off to a swinging start. The ensemble horns play over a taught rhythm section. There is an ease with which the band swings along. Graham solos with confidence on alto. His lines are both rhythmic and melodic. MacKinnon's trumpet bristles with energy on his solo. Guitarist Forman is ajoy to listen to, whether soloing or comping behind the other. He has a great sense of swing, playing without cluttering things up.
"Extracurriculum" is a nice mid-tempo tune where the guitar plays counterpoint to the dual horn line. Again, the band swings. Bassist Rubin steps out with a nice solo. His playing meshes well with drummer Doglono. They push the beat just enough to move things along without rushing. "Back In The Closet" reminds me of Freddie Hubbard in the arrangement. All in all, a nice, if not particularly ground breaking set. Recommended for those who like a nice, swinging set.
by Michael Bettine
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